Hands-On Review: HP Instant Ink Program

HP Envy 5660. It’s cool how the output tray automatically extends when you print.

We signed up for the $4.99/mo. Instant Ink program and the kit showed up on our doorstep within a few days. Note that it also includes a pre-paid shipping envelope that is used for recycling the ink cartridges. Now we should never again have to shop for ink, never again have to stockpile empty cartridges for recycling, never again have to trudge off to a cartridge recycling center, nor be concerned about how much ink we’re using.

We have just run out of the ship-with black ink and the program will officially begin once we install the black Instant Ink cartridge.

Update: We installed the black Instant Ink cartridge and noticed that it is longer than that of the ship-with and retail cartridges. While we have seen numerous occasions where ink carriers are designed to hold wider XL or hi-capacity black cartridges, this is the first time we have noted an ink carrier that is designed to hold cartridges of different lengths. Apparently we have tested a handful of HP printers with this carrier design in the past but since this is our first experience with Instant Ink cartridges it has escaped our notice until now. This partially explains why only select HP printers (some are precluded for economic reasons) are Instant Ink capable.

Once we installed the black Instant Ink cartridge, a message popped up on the touch screen congratulating us for participating in the Instant Ink program. Then, within minutes we received an e-mail from HP stating that the Instant Ink Program had officially begun and that we were going to be billed our monthly fee of $4.99 in the next few days. The only unknown left is how efficient the detection and shipping procedures are once we get to the point when we need more Instant Ink. Once we get there, we promise to let you know how it all turned out. 

 In summary, be sure to keep this astonishing point in mind: If we bought the HP 62XL ink cartridges for the HP Envy 5660 from a retail outlet, they would cost $34.99/$39.99 and yield 600/415 black/color pages. That results in a cost of 5.8¢ per black page and 15.5¢ per color page based on an area coverage of just 5 percent per color, which is approximate to a single-spaced letter printed on Letter/A4-size media. Best of all, we have only invested $4.99 thus far for cartridges that hold more ink than retail XL cartridges.

That said, with the HP Instant Ink Program, print sizes with unlimited color do not matter!

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53 Responses

  1. Raphael Harris says:

    Thanks for your article – I have just purchased a brand new (in a damaged box) Envy 5540 from Amazon Warehouse of £40 sterling. I have signed up for the 300 sheet arrangement. With the first three months free, this reduces the printer cost to an effective £16.

    I have no idea whether I will “win” or “lose” under the instant ink arrangement. I regularly print at least 300 pages per month, but in some months more. The cost of 600 sheets in the UK is £20; this is the costs of a black cartridge so the colour comes free! There is also a convenience factor. As I use my printer for business this has a value.

    Yes, HP are trying to make money – that’s why they are in business. I like using original inks rather than compatible as some of the compatibles are poor.

    As you rightly say, if you know what your printing use is and what your costs are, instant ink can be assessed

    All in all I think it is probably a good thing – but I will monitor what is happening

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  3. Laurie Oliver says:

    This is the biggest rip off there is. You get charged a monthly fee for “ink” support when all HP does is monitor how many pages you print each month. If you cancel the service your printer will no longer work with the ink cartridges that they provided to you that you think you are purchasing. You have to return the ink cartridges you thought you purchased from them and purchase others from a office supplies store. When questioned what I was paying for each month because I thought it was the ink, come to find out its a “service charge” to HP for “monitoring” how many pages you print each month even though I never got any type of report from HP only debits from my checking account. TOTAL RIP OFF

    • Terry Wirth says:

      Laurie, you are also getting very cheap ink along with the very low monthly charge. The monitoring is necessary in order for HP to send you more ink when it is nearing empty. If you want to cancel the program, at least wait until the ink is used up before you do it.

    • I think HP have made it perfectly clear that the ink cartridges belong to them and that you’re paying for pages you print, rather than the ink, in your subscription. Also reporting is all online, you can easily see how many pages you’ve printed, in three different categories (pages out of allowance, pages carried over from previous month, and extra pages), as well as a decent amount of other information. I wouldn’t call a few quid a month a total rip off…

  4. Mike says:

    I find the program complex, invasive, and annoying. Don’t believe me? Try not to use Instant Ink with one of the new printers. You get message after message asking for you to connect to the HP mother ship. Other messages saying that your printer will soon not work. I have called HP support 5 times. I have only received temporary fixes. I used to like HP printers. No longer.

  5. je2052016 says:

    I am a member of instaink , have not received my first shipment of ink. Can tou tell me when it might arrive

    • Terry Wirth says:

      It only takes a few days. You have probably gotten them by now. Advice: do not use up your retail cartridges, seal them up in plastic bags and save them for an emergency.

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